Judeflowerdew’s review published on Letterboxd:
I remember when this was released on Netflix during the first lockdown and I watched a couple of episodes knowing barely anything about basketball. I think the only players I actually knew were LeBron, Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Curry and a few other big names and I was just struggling to get my head around the rules of the game and as a result I just dropped and forgot about this series for ages.
Fast forward to the start of this NBA season around Christmas time, I really get into watching highlights which helped me understand the game a lot more and all of a sudden I find myself picking a team to support. Now as I am living in England with no family members or family friends living in the US so I have no affiliations to any team. I decide on two/maybe three rules to help me select a long term team to support:
1. I will try and avoid teams who seem to be doing really well at the moment or have historically done well because I don't want to be a fake glory supporter (So the ones that this ruled out effectively were the Lakers, Warriors, Bulls and Celtics. Note that some of those teams may not be doing well now and this shows how I still didn't know much about the sport a couple of months ago).
2. I will try and avoid teams with big names who seem like they are carrying their respective teams. (This effectively ruled out the Rockets- James Harden, Bucks- Giannis, Hawks- Trae Young and Trailblazers- Dame Lillard. Note- Seeing these teams play over the course of a couple months has made me realise there are many other good players on these teams).
3. This one wasn't the end of the world but I was trying to pick an Eastern conference team so that I would be able to watch them play at less obscene hours than the west coast hours. (Normally east coast teams will start playing at midnight- 2am for us here in the UK compared to 3am starts for west coasts teams).
This left me with four main options.
1. Utah Jazz
2. Indiana Pacers
3. Toronto Raptors
4. Philadelphia 76ers
I ended up choosing the Pacers as my number one draft pick and I am considering this as a preliminary season before I commit to fully supporting them. During the end of December to the start of February, I have been trying to stay up as often as possible watching these games and it has been one of the bright spots of lockdown for me. Players like Sabonis, Brogdon, McConnell, Turner etc have all been fun to watch for my first season as a Basketball fan and despite us going on a bit of a depressing slump at the moment (3-7) I have had some thrilling late night watching sessions.
Some time during January, I became aware of a Pacers legend by the nickname of the 'Knick Killer'. That is of course the pain in the ass for the Bulls in the 9th episode, Reggie Miller. Reading about and watching his impressive playing style and learning he was a hall of famer really interested me. I then came to the realisation that he must of played in the same sort of era as Jordan and then I see something about Miller in The Last Dance so I re start watching the series at Episode 1.
Now don't get me wrong, this isn't an impressive documentary really by any means. It feels like an archive of footage spliced into confusing timelines which is why as a casual viewer in the first lockdown, I had such a hard time watching it. The reason I love it a lot though is that it has both expanded my knowledge of the 90's Chicago Bulls and some of the star players in both that team and league and just really interested me to find out more about Michael Jordan.
Watching this documentary, is mainly an insight into Michael Jordan's headspace throughout the most important years of his career. Despite Pippen, Jackson and Rodman getting a fair share of screen time, they still feel like side pawns in contrast to Jordan and I don't really know how to feel about this. I feel conflicted because I wanted to see a lot more of other players such as Kukoc and a lot more of Rodman who in my opinion is one of the most interesting human beings to play sports. Additionally, I know Krause is disliked by many, and you can tell Jordan had something to do with this as Krause is just constantly butchered which I just find a bit childish to be honest as he is the man who drafted this player in the first place. Despite this though, I can't deny the fact that watching Jordan play is effectively Basketball porn. The death of his father, the constant bullying from the press, the expectations on him by everyone- the list goes on, shows how different he was from any other player out there as he was consistently able to play world class games against any difficulty of team.
Episode 9 was personally my favourite as I got to see Reggie Miller spazz out on the Bulls which was an enjoyable time until Game 7 came up.
In conclusion, I had a blast over the last month or so watching these 10 fascinating episodes giving me insights mainly into a riveting man, Michael Jordan, but also the members of the successful Chicago Bulls 90's franchise. I will definitely be watching more documentaries, films etc on the game of Basketball and my knowledge of the game will only expand from there. Hoop Dreams next, which I've heard is one of the best documentaries of all time! Also let's hope when LeVert and TJ Warren get back for the Pacers, we can make the playoffs and have a decent run!